BY SUSAN ESTRICH
Stormy Daniels has had her close-up – which is to say, her appearance on 60 Minutes. In New York, Summer Zervos is moving forward with her defamation suit against the president for calling her a liar and saying he was going to sue her for accusing him of sexually assaulting her, an accusation she made shortly before the election. And now former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal seeks to void her nondisclosure agreement with a tabloid so she can finally tell her story, too.
Meanwhile, the esteemed former chair of international law firm Latham & Watkins resigned last week amid word that he had sent inappropriate messages to someone outside the firm. Imagine that. And yet the president of the United States rolls on.
The president’s base includes virtually every social conservative in this country. I don’t have to imagine what they would be saying if it were a Democrat seated where Trump is; all I have to do is remember how they screamed for Bill Clinton’s head when he asked for the meaning of “is.”
Speaking of “is,” what is the story with Stormy Daniels? Why haven’t we heard anyone talking about questions of character? And what about Melania Trump? Is she standing by her man? Is she being hounded by the press about it, the way Hillary Clinton was? Or pilloried for not leaving? Am I missing something? A porn star is maybe OK?
According to Trump’s worldview, because he is a celebrity, he doesn’t have to ask: All he has to do is grab a woman by her you-know-what – a vulgarity never uttered on tape by any president of the United States until this one. That’s what is.
There are, it is now clear, at least two problems with the Donald Trump School Of Celebrity Courtship.
The first is that not all women want to be grabbed by the you-know-what, even if it’s a celebrity doing the grabbing. Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, apparently fit into that category. After threatening to sue her and the other women who complained about him during the campaign, Donald Trump conveniently forgot about it. Zervos did not forget. She is suing him instead, and a New York judge ruled last week that she could move forward with the suit, after Trump’s lawyers requested its dismissal.
The second is that if there is any reason to put up with such abuse from celebrities, it is not so you can keep quiet about it. The only reason to let an aging bleached-blond blowhard grab you by the you-know-what is for what you can say about it afterward. The ex-Playmate had actually sold her story to a tabloid; the problem for her was that the tabloid is owned by a friend of the president’s, who squelched the story, leaving her to follow in Stormy Daniels’ footsteps and seek relief in court, in her case from her pledge of exclusivity. She wants to tell all. Who wouldn’t?
In politics, things don’t hurt, until they do. People put up with things, until they don’t. Donald Trump is still the outlaw that appealed to Americans who did not like Hillary Clinton, and Clinton did herself no favors by calling those voters names. You can get away with almost anything simply by barreling past it.
Almost anything, that is.
Trump-haters cannot understand what Trump voters see in him. They just keep shaking their heads. But the question is not whether the haters have had enough, but whether – and when – his voters will. The more they are attacked for supporting him, the more loyal they will be. Maybe it’s time to stop attacking them and instead let them just listen to the threesome that is taking the floor.
– Susan Estrich’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer